Site of future Beacon's Closet in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
As Williamsburg, Brooklyn, continues its incredible economic boom, some of its early indie pioneers are heading out. Which isn’t to suggest the nabe is losing its edge, to loosely quote LCD Soundsystem. For every nationwide chain like Whole Foods or Urban Outfitters hoping to stake a claim in the area, there’s a one-of-a-kind, hyped spot—such as the club Verboten or record-shop-cum-music-venue Rough Trade—already moving in. Still, three staples (Beacon’s Closet, Academy Record Annex and the Flying Squirrel) are bidding adieu to the ’hood. Here’s the lowdown on their new nearby digs.
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Despite Billyburg’s reputation as a music hub—it’s still the king of DIY venues, boasting Death by Audio, 285 Kent Ave and Glasslands—the district hasn’t been particularly friendly toward record stores in recent months. Sound Fix closed for good in April; Earwax switched locations over the summer (but stayed in Williamsburg, taking a smaller space on North 9th Street, blocks from the Greenpoint, Brooklyn, border); and Academy Record Annex ditched its ten-year-old outpost at North 6th Street earlier this month for a spot by the Greenpoint waterfront. Co-owner Mike Davis, a longtime Greenpoint resident, told the blog Greenpointers of the store’s new neighborhood: “It’s definitely getting a certain amount of the Williamsburg exodus; people can’t afford to be [there] anymore.” The crate-digger haven’s new location (85 Oak St between Franklin and West Sts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718-218-8200) is sunnier than its former home, with more room to sift through its massive collection of punk, rock & roll, jazz, soul and experimental LPs. It’s also the latest addition to something of a vinyl nexus. Music lovers can map out a nice afternoon stroll by checking out Academy and fellow Greenpoint record slingers Co-Op 87, Permanent Records, Record Grouch and newcomer Captured Tracks.
Youth-goods purveyor Kate Schmitz of The Flying Squirrel—a store catering to budding Brooklyn parents with its selection of new and used toys, clothes and children’s books—opted to follow her neighbor since ’04, Academy Records, to Oak Street (87 Oak St at Franklin St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718-218-7775, flyingsquirrelbaby.com). Their businesses were housed at the same North 6th Street address; when their landlord sold the building to a developer, the duo decided to bust a move up north. “We lost our lease,” says Schmitz, as we imagine kids being evicted by white-hairs with suits and monocles who like to kick puppies. “We could have fought, but Urban Outfitters is coming to North 6th. I’ve lived here since ’86, and this area has changed more in the past year than it has in all the years before then. There are tourists everywhere.” Like Academy, the Flying Squirrel’s new locale is roomier than its old one, with floor-to-ceiling windows and multicolored checkered floors.
Most surprising is the looming departure of Beacon’s Closet(88 North 11th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; beaconscloset.com, 718-486-0816), a buy/sell/trade shop since 1997 that’s perpetually packed on the weekends. BC plans to take over a 7,500-square-foot site right off of McCarren Park (74 Guernsey St between Nassau and Norman Aves, Greenpoint, Brooklyn) before the end of the year. “It is not that we were priced out so much as we just didn’t see the point of [paying] the asking prices when Greenpoint has the same demographic,” notes founder Carrie Peterson. “It is still manageable in Williamsburg. Yes, it is expensive, but that also isn’t everything. To me, it doesn’t have the same lure it did when we first opened. But to someone just arriving, I can see the draw.”